2013- The Food Movement in Review

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Overall, I think that 2013 was a good year for those of us in the “food movement”. People are becoming more educated, and are starting to make healthier choices for their families. There have also been some major setbacks, but that is to be expected. Change doesn’t happen overnight, or in a week, a month, or a year. It takes time and people spreading the message to accomplish great things. Thank you to all of you out there voting with your dollars, marching, or educating yourselves on our food system! Here are some of the highlights and low points of 2013.

1. Chipotle becomes first restaurant to voluntarily label GMOs, and is now trying to go GMO free. It’s nice to have a good choice out there while traveling! We had Chipotle at 6am at the airport last week:)

2. Kraft removes artificial dyes from some of its products. The regular mac and cheese still contains the dyes, but many of the ones geared specifically toward children will not (SpongeBob etc.).

3. Original Cheerios goes GMO free. I think this technically happened in the first few days of this year, but who’s counting? Sometime in the near future, original Cheerios will be GMO free. It’s probably the least difficult one for them to change, as corn starch and sugar are the only two things that would be GMO anyway, but it’s a start!

4. March Against Monsanto has 2 million marchers worldwide. 2 million is a lot of people!

5. Connecticut and Maine pass GMO labeling laws. Hopefully more will follow suit!

Now for the bad news…

1. Washington state GMO labeling bill fails. It’s hard for the food movement to keep up with the millions being thrown into advertising by Big Food!

2. 50% of chicken tested contains antibiotic resistant bacteria. Gross. And Scary. The EU has reduced their salmonella contamination to below 1%, ours is still hovering between 11-16% each year. I know this is less a food movement issue and more a public health concern, but it’s so alarming that I thought I’d address it. Eat antibiotic free chicken!

3. A bill has been introduced that would allow products that contain GMOs to be labeled ‘natural’ or ‘all natural’. Thankfully, it’s not law…yet.

4. The Obama administration appointed a former Monsanto lobbyist as the new head of food safety.

That’s all I can think of off the top of my head, but I’m sure I’ve missed some! It was a busy year for the foodies of the US, and hopefully 2014 will be as well. Is there anything that you noticed that I missed? Let me know in the comments!!!

If you are curious about my feelings on GMOs and all things food, read this post.

Until our next adventure,

Moving Mommy

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Gluten-Free?

I’ve always been a little skeptical of the gluten-free craze that has taken off over the past several years. It seemed like out of the blue tons of people stopped eating gluten; why? Then I started doing some research, and maybe there is something to it. Obviously, people with Celiac disease cannot have gluten, but that is only about 10% of the population. What I’ve found is that many more people have gluten sensitivities, which can only be diagnosed by cutting out gluten. Many people who I have spoken with feel so much better since going gluten-free. Wheat is in a much different, more processed form than it was when our grandparents ate it. Maybe it’s the gluten, maybe it’s the process used now, I’m not sure. I still didn’t really have any desire to go gluten-free, as it would be a total nightmare for the kids.

Will has eczema, and has since about the time I stopped nursing. It comes and goes, and until now I just used Cetaphil to moisturize his skin and it has worked ok. All of a sudden, it has gotten really bad. He’s covered in it and I feel terrible for him. The only thing the doctors can do is put him on steroids, which I only want to do as a last resort. Hydrocortisone cream works some, but I would much rather find the source of the problem than constantly have to treat it. The problem is that no one really knows what causes it, only that it is an autoimmune condition. That’s probably because it isn’t one thing that causes it in all people.

My goal is to figure out what is causing it in Will. It could be candida overgrowth, an unhealthy balance in gut bacteria, a food allergy, lots of things really. I may not find the answer at all. The first thing that we are doing is cutting out gluten. If it’s a food sensitivity, that is the most likely one. Even if it isn’t, cutting out gluten will help with the other likely culprits too. We will see!

I’m baking a loaf of gluten-free bread right now, wish me luck!

Does anyone have any advice on eczema or going gluten-free? What are your thoughts?

Until our next adventure,
Moving Mommy

Blackberry Chia Seed Smoothie

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The Blueberry Kale Smoothie I posted awhile back is one of my most popular posts and was even featured at Adventures in Mindful Living, so I thought that I would share one of my other favorite smoothies!

Blackberries are rich in bioflavonoids and vitamin C and have high antioxidant levels. They also have a high tannin content which can help to reduce intestinal inflammation. They provide a sweet, rich flavor which is the part I like best! Chia seeds are a wonderful source of both Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids (they contain more Omega-3 than salmon!). They are also packed full of fiber and minerals. I find them in ground form on the natural food aisle at my grocery store.

Blackberry Chia Smoothie

1 cup organic frozen blackberries

1 cup organic greens (I usually use spinach or kale)

1/4 cup organic vanilla yogurt (you could replace this with a little more water for dairy-free)

1 tbsp ground chia seeds

1/4-1/2 cup of water (start with 1/4 and add as needed)

Add the yogurt first, followed by the greens, chia seeds and blackberries. Pour the water over the top and blend! Enjoy!

-Moving Mommy

One Step at a Time

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Before we started our journey toward a real food lifestyle, we were not healthy eaters. We ate out a lot, I rarely cooked, and most things I did cook came out of a box. The one thing that I did try to avoid was artificial food dyes. Not because I necessarily thought that they were terrible for us, but because they made Luke act crazy. If I gave him Kool-Aid or a sucker he would change from a state of calm into a crazy fit of toddler tantrum. I’m probably overexaggerating, but the difference in his behavior was noticeable. I had no idea that Kraft Macaroni and Cheese contained food dyes either. I was under the impression that it was only in candy and drinks, not in actual food. I also didn’t know that they were derived from petroleum. Gross.

It is widely believed that artificial dyes cause hyperactivity in children, so apparently Luke isn’t the only one. Some doctors support this theory while others do not, but after Halloween candy this year I have seen Will act in much the same way Luke did. These artificial dyes are not allowed in food in many other countries and must have warning labels in even more. Companies use them because it is cheaper to use a yellow chemical dye than to use paprika to dye something yellow. Higher profit margin for them, health consequences for the public.

In March, Vani Hari the Food Babe and Lisa Leake from 100 Days of Real Food created this petition on Change.org requesting that Kraft remove artificial dyes from its macaroni and cheese, as it has done for the UK. They responded by stating that some of their varieties do not contain dye. The problem is that all of the ones marketed toward children DO contain artificial dyes. The products that use natural dyes are either not readily available or the homestyle versions. Certainly nothing in the blue box. Vani Hari took 270,000 signatures to Kraft headquarters, which you can read about here, and it was a big step. But nothing happened… until now!

Kraft released that they will be removing the artificial dyes from three versions of their macaroni and cheese marketed toward children, Sponge-bob, Halloween, and winter shapes. They will also be adding two more dye-free products. Is it enough? No. Is it a start? Absolutely!

It goes to show that little by little, concerned citizens are changing our food system to make it healthier for ourselves and our children. That is not only encouraging, it is something to be proud of.

Until our next adventure,
Moving Mommy

Clean Eating on a Budget

With my Why Organic post, I told you why I choose to eat organic. Today I’ll tell you how I manage to eat mostly organic with very little processed food on a $150 per week budget for a family of five. When I first started on this real food journey, I didn’t think we would ever be able to do it. The prices of organic foods are much higher than traditional and take more time to prepare than processed foods. Once I built up my pantry and freezer, I realized that it is possible. It just takes time and effort to get there.

I can’t say that we eat 100% organic or even that we have no processed food in the house (I face some resistance from my other half:)). We have to make sacrifices in some areas to be able to splurge in others, but I still feel good about what we are eating. Everyone’s priorities with food are a little different. Some will buy conventional produce but not meat. Some will buy conventional dairy but not produce. What is important is what you think is best for your family. Many will not agree with the way I do things, but it is what works best for us. So here are some tips to get you on your way!

1. Start to build a whole foods pantry– I began buy purchasing mason jars, organic oats, and organic brown rice cereal. Each week I would make room in my budget for a few more things, like raw honey, organic sugar, whole wheat flour, and organic raisins. All of these things can be used frequently and still last a long time.

2. Buy in season or frozen fruits and veggies– I shop at the farmers market as much as I can, but it’s sometimes hard to even get there with three little ones! Right now, organic apples are inexpensive. My grocery store had them for $1.25 per pound this week. Things like berries are really expensive right now and their quality is poor, so we skip berries this time of year. For smoothies I buy organic frozen mixed fruit. The same goes for veggies like corn.

3. Eat a lot of greens– Lettuce, kale, and Swiss chard are all inexpensive organic options, so we eat a lot of those.

4. Stock up when meat is on sale– We cannot always eat organic meats, it gets really expensive to do so. A couple of weeks ago, organic chicken breasts were on sale for $2.99/lb, which is incredibly cheap so I stocked up and put it in the freezer! I also buy a whole organic chicken each week and cook it in the slow cooker. It generally makes two meals for us and is usually around $2.29/lb.

5. Eat breakfast for dinner– Eggs are high in protein and organic eggs are only around $4 per dozen.

6. Make your own snacks– I make granola bars, cinnamon raisin bread, apple chips, and apple sauce most often. This not only saves money, but cuts out a huge amount of processed food that we used to eat. There are tons of recipes on Pinterest!

7. Shop at a wholesale store– We shop at BJ’s Wholesale every week, along with our trip to the grocery store. They have their own organic brand, and it’s much cheaper for spices, frozen fruits, and tons of other stuff.

8. Buy a water filtration system– I used to go through two cases of water per week, which was around $10. I bought a filtration system to go on my faucet for around $30 and I only have to change the filter every four to six months.

9. Stay on the perimeter of the grocery store– everything in the middle aisles is processed. When we first started making the switch, I realized how much all of those boxes of macaroni and cheese and potatoes add up. It will really save you money. We shop the perimeter first and then go down the organic aisle for anything we need that is processed.

Right now, we buy regular milk. My kids drink a lot of it and organic milk is really expensive. I make sure to buy milk that is labeled antibiotic/hormone free. This means that it likely contains GMOs but at least my kids won’t be hitting puberty at 10 or getting an antibiotic resistant infection because of what they are eating. I do the same thing for beef.

That’s how we do it! We are far from a perfectly clean eating family, but I do feel good about what we eat for the most part.

Do you have any clean eating tips or recipes you’d like to share? Leave me a note in the comments!

Until our next adventure,
Moving mommy

Why Organic?

Since i started blogging, I have had several people ask me about my changed eating habits. I wasn’t exactly a healthy eater for the majority of my life. I used to eat boxed macaroni and cheese and all sorts of other processed stuff. We ate fruits and vegetables, but most of our side dishes came out of a box. I knew they weren’t really healthy, but I also didn’t think that they were unhealthy. I mean, a box of dried up potatoes is just a box of dried up potatoes, right? Nope, not even close. There are probably 50 ingredients.

I stumbled upon 100 Days of Real Food about a year ago. I wanted the twins to be healthy eaters from the very start, and figured that I would have less trouble with them being picky in the future. The problem was, I didn’t really know what to change to be healthier. So I started following different blogs and websites for ideas, and I was shocked at what I found. I didn’t really know what to believe, so I started researching…a lot.

There’s a lot of conflicting information out there, but I made the decision that I thought was best for my family. When our parents were little there was no such thing as organic. That’s because everything was organic. There were no genetically modified ingredients and produce wasn’t doused in pesticides. Those things have only developed over the past 50 or so years. GMOs were first introduced in the mid-90s, and now nearly 90% of soy, canola, cotton, corn, and sugar beets are GMO. Approximately 70% of all processed food contains GMOs. Are GMOs safe? The FDA has approved them, but there were no long term studies. You aren’t going to keel over and die if you eat something genetically engineered to produce an herbicide, but what are the long term effects on our bodies? We don’t really know. 64 countries, including Australia, Russia, China, and the UK, require GMOs to be labeled. New Zealand, Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, Greece, Luxembourg, and France ban GMOs. They are neither banned nor labeled here in the US. I could talk about this for hours, but I’m not an expert.

Here’s what I do know. Food and skin allergies, auto immune disease, autism, and cancer are all on the rise and no one knows why. Is it GMOs, preservatives, vaccines, pollution, chemicals? Probably a combination of a bunch of things. That’s why I’m trying my best not to put things into our bodies that don’t belong. It can’t hurt to avoid pesticides, GMOs, preservatives, and chemicals in my food.

This is why I choose to eat organic and avoid processed food as much as possible. I encourage you to do some research, there’s tons of info out there!

Do you eat organic? Why or why not?

Until our next adventure,
Moving Mommy

Sources:
Encyclopedia Brittanica
The Earth Institute- Columbia University
CDC
Just Label It
Natural Revolution